Facebook Gets Into Payments and How to Use Social Media
BY Max Chafkin
A new growth strategy for Facebook? Facebook is gearing up to test a new payment platform, according to Business Insider. The goal is to make it easier for users and all those app developers to buy and sell—with the company taking a cut of every transaction, naturally. With the advertising market depressed, it seems like a promising as a way for the IPO-hopeful to generate revenue. The company hopes to make their platform the preferred one for web commerce.
Reinventing your business, hockey style. The Chicago Tribune looks at how a smart marketing campaign has helped the Chicago Blackhawks trade empty seats for all-time attendance records. Clever ads and a business-savvy front office have turned the franchise around, with season ticket sales jumping from 3,400 to over 14,000 in just one season. Unfortunately, the same marketing know-how is lacking in the NHL league office, which has essentially taken the most exciting playoff series in recent history and hidden it from potential hockey fans.
Rules for social media. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal released guidelines for how its reporters should use social media services like Twitter and Facebook. (Sample: "Don't disparage the work of colleagues or competitors or aggressively promote your coverage.") Fred Wilson, the venture capitalist and blogger, who knows about as much as anyone about how to use social media to be better at what you do, published his thoughts on the policy. He says that most of the rules make sense, but takes issue with four, including a rule prohibiting reporters from discussing internal meetings: "I get great value from talking about investments I plan to make. The feedback and comments I get from those posts informs the investment decision and how we plan to manage the investment once we've made it. The same approach is being used by the most forward thinking journalists." He's right--and it's good advice for anybody in business who is using social media.
Down goes Circuit City. Two months after closing its last stores, Circuit City has sold its brand, trademarks, and web operation to Systemax for the grand total of $14 million, the Associated Press reports. Once the country's second largest U.S. electronics chain that boasted more than $12 billion in revenue, Circuit City filed for Chapter 11 protection in November with the hope of reorganizing and continuing to operate. The cratering economy made sure that never happened. Check out Joel Spolsky's column from our May issue for his take on why Circuit City really failed and why New York City-based B&H still thrives.
Craigslist to clean up its act--or something. Resolved: Craigslist needs its own special business category. It's a for-profit company that talks like a non-profit, consistently declines opportunities to make tons of cash, and yet somehow has managed to disrupt an industry that for decades enjoyed near-monopoly status and double digit profit margins. Given all this, it's not surprising that Craiglist's response to an investigation of its "erotic services" category, stemming from the murder of a masseuse who advertised her services through the site, has been somewhat idiosyncratic. Yesterday, the site announced that it would end terminate the "erotic services" category, which had given all its profits to charity, and would replace it with a new for-profit category called "adult services." Valleywag points out that this whole situation is really weird: "So, our elected officials, in their effort to find a scapegoat for crimes against sex workers like the murder of Julissa Brisman, have taken a site that never made a dime from the hookups it helped set up, and turned it into a full-time, for-profit sex money machine."
Bartenders go back to school. How bad is the recession? One indication: The unemployment numbers for last week were worse than expected, with the economy losing 637,000 jobs. But perhaps a more telling sign is that even bartenders are scrambling to improve their credentials. The Wall Street Journal reports on the growth of programs in "mixology," which "aim to help students find gainful careers in the bar or spirits industries as well as further legitimize the profession."